UK supermarket Iceland is to stop palm oil consumption by the end of this year. The decision draws criticism as the move is not considered as a long-term solution to reduce deforestation or protect the environment.
In the statement on Monday, April 23, 2018, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stated that Iceland’s decision to ban palm oil products does not really help in environmental protection and in fact, WWF supports the palm oil industry development. “Eliminating palm oil from the production chain will not improve or protect the environment. Sustainable development of the palm oil industry will.”
Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) Director Mahendra Siregar has also sent a letter to Iceland regarding its decision. Mahendra said that he was not surprised by Iceland’s move as he regarded it as one of the black campaigns for the Indonesian palm oil industry. “I am not surprised by the decision considering the EU campaign to discredit palm oil,” he wrote in the letter.
Faces of Palm Oil, Malaysian oil palm farmers association expressed their similar opinions through a video. Faces of Palm Oil highlighted the insensitivity of millionaire Richard Walker to oil palm role in alleviating poverty in the third world countries. “Richard just wants to corner small-scale palm oil farmers in Asia and Africa,” wrote Faces of Palm Oil in his video.
Why Iceland and Mr Walker are wrong about palm oil, in one short video. pic.twitter.com/SpYvoNIaUN
— Faces of Palm Oil (@PalmOilFarmer) April 18, 2018
This issue has uniquely attracted the attention of the Norwegian Embassy for Indonesia in supporting the palm oil industry development, although Norway has once had anti-palm oil campaigns. “Working with the palm oil producers is important … to ensure that Indonesia can increase the production but without expanding into the forest,” said Christoffer Gronstad, a climate change and forest expert at the Norwegian Embassy in Indonesia.
Previously, Iceland Supermarket Director Richard Walker asserted that palm oil consumption was the main cause of deforestation after his visit to Indonesia in early January 2018. “Certified sustainable palm oil currently does not currently limit deforestation and it does not currently limit the growth of oil palm plantations,” Richard Walker told the BBC, who also argues that increasing palm oil consumption could damage tropical forests in Southeast Asia.
Iceland took the decision for it claimed 85% of its customers refused to buy products containing palm oil.